Johannesburg - A top Department of Home Affairs official is under fire for approving controversial Malawian fugitive and self-proclaimed Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his family's applications for permanent residency.
Ronney Marhule, the department’s chief director for permits, has been charged internally for approving the Bushiris' permanent residency applications without proper compliance with standard operating procedures.
Marhule is accused of being party to the recommending and approval of Bushiri and his immediate family’s applications for permanent residency.
An internal home affairs investigation found that since March 2016, when Bushiri’s application for permanent residence was received, its approval has been done without proper compliance with the Department of Home Affairs’ standard operating procedures and in contravention of the Immigration Act.
The department’s evidence shows that the Bushiris’ applications were captured and granted by its officials using the incorrect section of the Act as a result of Bushiri and his wife Mary’s commissions or omissions.
According to papers filed at the Labour Court in Johannesburg, where Marhule was challenging the disciplinary hearing initiated against him, he and three other officials were enablers and facilitators who made it possible for Bushiri to obtain a permanent residence permit.
The department believes this allowed Bushiri and his family to be able to remain in South Africa and commit criminal acts which include fraud, forgery and money laundering charges they are facing and later skipping the country while out on bail.
Marhule hauled Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and director-general Livhuwani Makhode to the Labour Court to urgently challenge the fact that the department had a legal representative in the disciplinary hearing while he did not.
His basis for approaching the court urgently was that he has demonstrated exceptional and compelling circumstances for its intervention in his incomplete disciplinary proceedings.
Marhule argued that because the department was allowed to be legally represented at the internal hearing he will suffer prejudice due to the fact that he does not have the financial means to secure his own legal representation.
Labour Court Judge Edwin Tlhotlhalemaje on Monday found that Marhule should have approached the court for urgent relief on or immediately after April 14, when he received the department’s application for legal representation in order to prevent the disciplinary hearing chairperson Chris Mudau from even considering the matter.
Marhule only approached the court on May 17, two weeks after Mudau made his ruling and that he became aware that the department was legally represented or intended to be legally represented on March 23.
He said Mudau had no powers to even consider the department’s application to be legally represented and that by doing so he acted ultra vires (beyond the powers).
”The applicant (Marhule) has not made out a case for the relief that he seeks. Other than the requirements of urgency not having been met, or the fact that it would not be competent for this court to grant the relief that the applicant seeks in the light of the ruling of the chairperson, the exceptional circumstances pleaded, in this case, are not of such a nature it can be said that the failure to intervene at this stage would lead to a grave injustice,” ruled Judge Tlhotlhalemaje on Monday.
In dismissing Marhule’s bid, the judge explained that alternative remedies remain available to him should he at some point deem it necessary to utilise the dispute resolution mechanisms provided for in the Labour Relations Act.